Monday, July 23, 2012

Meant to Be

As our seventeenth wedding anniversary approaches, I've been thinking a lot about marriage. Thinking about my views on relationships then and now. Thinking about people being "meant to be."

I have always been dreamy and idealistic, and twenty years ago, I probably believed more in that stuff. I'd heard the story hundreds of times of my dad, upon first seeing my mom, telling my uncle that she was the girl he was going to marry. That was my fairy tale, and I dreamed of one day experiencing that.

And I did. Upon meeting Brad, intoxicated by his beautiful lips--and Bud Light--I said that I would marry him someday. I didn't know all those years ago how that statement would impact my life.

Meant to be for us turned into jealousy and anger and unexpected pregnancies. It became sleepless nights and low-paying jobs and years of college. It brought tears and heartbreak and disappointment and disillusionment.

It brought bad decisions, terrible choices, and circumstances beyond our control.

Meant to be. Bleck.

There have been more than a few opportunities to throw in the towel. More than a few times that we could have cut our losses, divided our lives, and pursued different dreams. There have been times when it might have been easier to walk away than to stay and weather the storms that seemed perpetually positioned above our fairy tale.

So when people say we are meant to be, I laugh, because regardless of what was meant to be, we made one decision after another to continue to be. We followed one path when there didn't seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel. We loved each other even when we didn't feel like looking at each other. We alternately blamed each other, resented each other, wallowed in self-pity and wondered why we kept getting dealt one crappy hand after another. And we kept playing those crappy hands together.

I wanted the meant to be of fairy tales. The happily ever after that doesn't involve loss or death or hardships. That meant to be doesn't exist.

But if it is true that God meant us to be together, then I'm very grateful that He has kept us from screwing things up too badly. I'm grateful that He gave us just enough happiness to make it through the heartbreak. I'm grateful He gave us just enough love to temper the anger and jealousy and resentment. I'm grateful He gave us the fortitude to keep going when it would have been easier to quit. I'm grateful He gave me one more minute, one more day, and one more year to learn to appreciate, understand, and cherish the love of my life. Because whether or not we were meant to be, I mean to be his for the rest of my life.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dreamy, Flighty, and Stupid

I was reading my posts from a year ago, trying to gauge the differences. Have I made any progress? It's good to have such an accurate measuring tool as your own thoughts. Last year, I was 20 pounds over my goal weight, taking anti-depressants, drinking too much, and waking up too many mornings feeling guilty for things that I often didn't remember. I had a great circle of friends who also drank too much. My husband drank too much. But we were a lot fun. We had a great time.

Today, I am 6 pounds over my goal weight. I still haven't accepted my body though I am a little easier on it. I still love to eat and sometimes eat for the wrong reasons. I drink less and wake up every morning guiltless (well, other than the usual should have, would have, could have stuff) and clear-headed. I don't make alcohol-induced bad choices; although, I am still living with the bad choice of picking up a cigarette and thereby becoming a smoker again. I've learned that I can just drink one beer and enjoy it. I have learned that I am fun even without alcohol, and my husband doesn't give me disapproving looks. I still have great friends, though some have moved on because I guess they don't find me much fun anymore. I miss them but not enough to go back to that life.

I no longer take anti-depressants. In fact, I only took them for a few months before deciding they weren't right for me. I think I needed them for awhile, even if it was just to realize that I didn't need them. My dad's death took a toll on me that has taken a long time to process. Yesterday was his birthday, and I didn't cry or eat 5000 calories or stay in bed all day. I missed him but felt him near me all day. I think that is a big change. I still miss my dad, but he seems closer. And I think that is because he is with God, and God has drawn me nearer to both of them.

There is no reasonable explanation for the changes in my life other than God's grace. I always considered myself to be a Christian, but for most of my life, I certainly wasn't living that way. Since we began regularly attending church, getting involved in The Movement, and actively trying to follow Jesus, my life has changed dramatically. In fact, when I look at our life today, it's daunting how much work God has done.

I've had conversations with people who don't really believe in God and find me flighty or dreamy or even stupid to give Him credit for my life. They feel sorry for me or judge me or talk about me behind my back. In the past, I would have tried to convince them or justify myself. I would have agonized about how to make them like me. Now, I don't care what people think about me. I pray for them to have the same sort of heart awakening that I've had. This is the bottom line: I gave my life to Christ, and He is doing a noticeably better job with it than I did.